HIGH COURT FAVOURS CHANCO STUDENT IN STRIKE CASE

The High Court in Blantyre on Friday ruled in favour of a Chancellor College student, Chisomo Kamanga in a case in which the student asked the court to order the lecturers to go back to classes.

In High Court case number 21 of 2011 between Chisomo Kamanga and Chancellor College and Polytechnic lecturers, the student asked the High Court to declare that the lecturers’ strike was illegal, that it was a violation of the student’s right to education and order the lecturers to resume teaching.
Kamanga is the sole plaintiff after his two friends Alamin Satheka and Chisomo Nkhalamba dropped the case.
However, the lecturers brought some grounds of objection against the plaintiff’s council in which they argued that the student was a minor and therefore had no capacity to commence court proceedings.
The defendant council also argued that the lecturers ware not a legal entity therefore could not be sued and that they (the lecturers) had different interests.

Passing the ruling on Friday evening, Judge Joseph Manyungwa went through quashing all the arguments by the defendant’s council one after another.

Regarding the argument that the plaintiff in this case was a minor hence could not commence the proceeding in the court, Manyungwa said, “For a party to put forward this argument it should prove the age of plaintiff by giving the actual age and discussing the source of the information.

“In this case the defendant’s affidavit did not give the actual age and did not discuss the source of information. I therefore dismiss the ground of objection,” said Manyungwa in a cool tone.

On the argument that the lecturers were not a legal entity and that they had different interests, Manyungwa ruled that “The court has powers to appoint one or two people to defend the action.”

Upon reaching this, the High Court Judge ordered that two lecturers namely; Dr. Jassie Kabwira Kapasula from Chancellor College and her counterpart Lucius Kwakwala to defend the action for the rest of the lecturers.

After the ruling the defendant’s council led by Sheffa Mumba made two applications. The first one was to appeal against the ruling at Supreme Court of Appeal and the second was for a judgment stay order while waiting for the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Lawyer representing the Chancellor College student Charles Chiphwanya could not object the application for the appeal.

“The defendants have a right to appeal and I would not object to that but on the stay order, the defendant council has not shown why a judgment stay order should be given,” said Chiphwanya.

He went on to express his concern over his client’s right of education by arguing that the process of appeal would further infringe on the right of education for his client.

“It should be noted that the longer the plaintiff stays without being lectured, the more his right is infringed upon and there is no law that allows such an interference to his education,” said.

Making his final ruling of the day, Manyungwa granted that the defendant council take the case to the supreme court of appeal but dismissed the judgment stay order application.

“A stay order is granted upon proof of circumstances. It has to show that the appeal would succeed and in this case we are not satisfied that the appeal would succeed. We therefore, decline to favour the application for a stay order,” finished the Judge.

The lectures have since seven days to forward their appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Some notable lecturers who were present at the court were Dr Edge Kanyongolo and Dr Jessie Kabwira Kapasula who together with their friends were in joyous mood and decorated their necks with a red cloth representing the fight for academic freedom.

The tussle on academic freedom begun when Inspector General of Police Peter Mukhito summoned Associate Professor Blessings Chinsinga over an example he gave in class in a political Science class.

This led to demonstrations and the closure of Chancellor College and the Polytechnic.

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